Text by: Rosa Almeida – Participatory Design Manager – INTRAS; Raquel Losada – Head of RDI Unit – INTRAS; Mª José Hernández – RDI Project Manager – INTRAS; Yolanda Bueno – Head of Cognitive Intervention Unit – INTRAS; Adriana Grau – Psychologist – INTRAS.
Driven by the escalation in the coronavirus outbreak organisations may have to jump from occasional, or regular but small-scale teleworking, into the prolonged remote working of the entire workforce. In some cases, it even happened without any formalised structure or policy for it.
Before the pandemic, research suggested that teleworking can be one of the most effective working formats in some working areas, and that can increase employees’ job satisfaction and commitment to an organization and even slightly improve their performance at work . It can also reduce exhaustion and work-related stress, sometimes due to a reduced commute or more-flexible hours, and/or a reduction in commuting costs and more freedom to work independently.
However, teleworking has always had drawbacks, including social and professional isolation, decreased information sharing opportunities, and difficulty separating these two worlds – work and personal time.
We listed some situations and stories that are being common in this period and represent the extra challenges the pandemic brings:
- Teleworking during the COVID-19 pandemic can make you feel like you’re working all the time, especially if you are working from home for the first time.
- The need support for know how to set boundaries between the work and personal life, as well as avoid professional isolation (can cause family obligations to intrude on work and work obligations to bleed into family time).
- To find privacy at home in this awkward times, employees could find themselves in the awkward position of conducting meetings from their bedrooms or kitchens and avoiding distractions and interruptions might be next to impossible.
- For those new to teleworking, other biggest challenge of working from home during the pandemic might be the lack of in-person collaboration with colleagues.
- The inexistence of solid teleworking policies in place can cause ambiguity, confusion or anxiety.
- Can cause teleworkers to work extra hours to prove themselves, resulting in burnout.
- Difficulties in obtaining the expected support when employees look for the communication, behaviour and role-modelling of their direct supervisors to understand the expected norms and the culture of the organisation, especially in a situation of disruption in the normal working format affecting all working levels.
- Being almost constantly connected through a variety of technologies also can cause employees to feel like they are always on or unable to unplug at the end of the day.
- Companies in the most affected regions by the coronavirus reported, they were struggling with the organisation and management of a remotely operating workforce (e.g. per lack of flexible working know-how, technology required or teleworking policies).
All of the mentioned challenges and more can cause anxiety, stress and frustration. However, recent studies have shown that employees working from home can be even more effective if a number of conditions are being met.
|“Offer the necessary tools to workers so that they can perform their tasks digitally and prepare the organization to take advantage of the most innovative technologies in data analytics, process automation or artificial intelligence and ultimately improve the experience of its partners , customers or of themselves” Gloria Valle, Talent Director at Syntonize|
It is for all this that WA aim to provide companies with a new tool to help to implement telework more efficiently, with possible improvement in productivity, in risk prevention (mainly ergonomic and psychosocial that cause physical, cognitive and emotional stress) and promotion of worker well-being.
Although organizations should have or prepare sensible emergency teleworking policy, provide opportunities for empowering team-members in such uncertain and challenging times, as well as maintaining a good communication flow and workstyle, there are other aspects related to ergonomic and psychosocial tele-working risks for which WAOW may be a supportive tool.
Awareness generating of routines and aspects such as tiredness and mood can have a positive impact on work and adequate recommendations for work-life balance (healthier work and lifestyle).
WAOW tool can be used by the worker to set boundaries regarding healthy work routines, physical and mental wellbeing (e.g. monitoring posture, orienting brief pauses for stretching to reduce tiredness and help to maintain focus). The system will learn with the worker by experience-result to figure out what works best to preserve their health and wellbeing.
Aware of the challenges and difficulties posed by teleworking, and mainly in the conditions generated by the coronavirus, WORKINGAGE will address this work scenario in the coming months with consultation and testing activities in real environments.
Stay connected to our webpage for further information.